Te Papa is paying tribute to its founding chief executive Dame Cheryll Sotheran who died on December 30.
Sotheran took up the job of running the then planned Te Papa - created from the merger of New Zealand's National Museum and National Art Gallery - in 1992.
She resigned suddenly in 2002 for health reasons having seen the vision through.
"In creating this unique place for all New Zealanders, Dame Cheryll helped change the way we see ourselves, and our place in the world," says Te Papa chief executive Geraint Martin.
Te Papa was a large and at times controversial project and Sotheran had a high profile while in charge of it.
"The opening of Te Papa on 14 February 1998, on time and under budget, can be attributed to Dame Cheryll's determination and vision," says Te Papa's current bi-cultural leader Dr Arapata Hakiwai, who worked alongside Sotheran.
"Cheryll had an unwavering belief in a new kind of museum, and was determined to create an experience that was different - a bi-cultural space that was exciting and challenging and open to all."
Dr Hakiwai said the passing of Sotheran, after the loss of former kaihautu Cliff Whiting in July, was poignant as the museum approached its 20th anniversary.
"This year we have lost the two true creators of Te Papa."
Te Papa said in December its nature exhibitions will close from Easter 2018 for an $11 million redevelopment, which will open in 2019.
This will follow the opening of Toi Art, a new art gallery, in March 2018, which is the biggest change to Te Papa since it opened.